Shuster Rips Neoconservative Ajami For Comparing Scooter Libby To Fallen U.S. Soldiers

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month, neoconservative scholar Fouad Ajami compared Scooter Libby to “fallen soldiers” in Iraq. “[Libby] can’t be left behind as a casualty of a war our country had once proudly claimed as its own,” he wrote.

MSNBC’s David Shuster confronted Ajami about this comparison today on Hardball. “Mr. Ajami, do you really believe Mr. Libby is like the 3,600 soldiers killed in Iraq?” he asked. “I don’t need to be lectured on the soldiers killed in Iraq,” Ajami said. “You have to be able to handle metaphors, this really was a metaphor.” Schuster noted, “The word ‘metaphor’ is nowhere in your column.”

Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war veteran and executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), said of Ajami’s comparison:

I think it’s absurd. It’s a new low and an act of desperation here to defend a man by comparing him to fallen soldiers. … Part of the soldier’s creed is to uphold the Army values and live the Army values. Those values include honor, integrity, and personal courage. They don’t include lying and breaking the law. So I think it’s really an absurd analogy.

Shuster asked Rieckhoff, “If someone was convicted of four felonies, would they even be entitled to serve in the military?” “No, they’d be in a military prison right now.” replied Rieckhoff. Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/07/ShusterAjami.320.240.flv]

During the segment, Shuster repeatedly corrected Ajami’s falsehoods about the Libby case. When Ajami tried to claim that Libby wasn’t a leaker of Plame’s identity, Shuster quickly debunked him, noting that it came out at trial that seven different people in the administration revealed Plame’s identity in a concerted campaign to out her. “Why did Libby lie to the FBI?” Schuster asked. A flummoxed Ajami could only falsely claim, “I don’t know that he did.”

“Would you like to apologize for your position on the Iraq war?” David Shuster asked. “No, not at all, I think it was a noble war,” Ajami responded.

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UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has video of the full segment.